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MADA Receives Two Montana Department of Commerce Competitive Grant Projects

The Montana Aerospace Development Association (MADA) was awarded two separate competitive Grant Projects from the Montana Department of Commerce Board of Research and Commercialization Technology Program to develop new technology test and evaluation capabilities at the Butte AeroTec Facility. Butte AeroTec is a MADA-operated advanced energy and aerospace technology test and evaluation facility located just outside of Butte, MT; and it involves a partnership between MADA; Space Propulsion Group, Inc. (SPG); Rhodia, Inc.; State of Montana; City-County of Butte-Silver Bow; Universal Technical Resource Services, Inc. (UTRS); Montana Economic Revitalization and Development Institute (MERDI); Butte Local Development Corporation (BLDC); Port of Montana; and Bert Mooney Airport Authority.

The first project titled “Solid Fuel Ramjet Technology Development and Testing” was awarded in December 2009, and it involves the development of a test-bench that will be capable of testing and evaluating various Solid Fuel RamJet (SFRJ) propulsion technologies. Initially, the test-bench is being used to test a paraffin wax propellant-based SFRJ technology that is being developed by SPG. SPG is a Stanford University-affiliated company that is developing advanced aerospace propulsion and energy technologies for both the U.S. government and private-sector. Ramjet propulsion technology is considered to be an attractive alternative to rockets for a number of high-speed flight applications because ramjets utilize oxygen in the atmosphere for combustion, as opposed to rockets that must carry an on-board oxygen supply. SPG’s paraffin wax technology offers additional advantages since its paraffin wax propellant does not require any plumbing hardware (resulting in significant weight savings), and it is extremely safe and environmentally friendly. The project is utilizing test hardware that MADA and the State of Montana moved to the Butte AeroTec Facility from Mojave, CA in 2007. This new Butte AeroTec capability represents a unique resource for the nation’s aerospace industry to test and evaluate advanced RamJet propulsion technologies and systems.

The second program titled “Development Of Ammonia-Based Fuels For Environmentally Friendly Power Generation” was initiated in November 2010 and involves the development and testing of Ammonia fuels technology for “Green” electric power generation. MADA and SPG are testing and evaluating Ammonia combustors utilizing the newly developed SFRJ test-bench. Ammonia is a very efficient combustion fuel because it contains a high concentration of hydrogen. Since Ammonia does not possess any carbon, it is also believed to be an attractive alternative to hydrocarbon-based fuels for power generation applications. Additionally, Ammonia can help mitigate the “Stranded-Energy” issues (i.e., limited access to electric power distribution grids) associated with renewable energy technologies such as wind and solar; as Ammonia could be produced at the wind/solar generation sites and then shipped by truck, rail, or pipeline to central power generation facilities to be combusted to produce carbon dioxide-free electricity. Finally, since Ammonia is a primary component in fertilizers, the project could significantly benefit the nation’s agriculture industry.

For additional information on MADA, the Butte AeroTec Facility, or these MBRCT projects, please contact David Micheletti at (406) 490-1395 or dmicheletti@utrs.com.